Goal Setting Tip of the Month: Inevitability Thinking

February 27, 2016

this month, i have a goal setting tip for you that pertains particularly to the goals that you find yourself struggling with.  this system works well for goals that you've failed at before or ones that you know you should do but not that you necessarily want to do.  [you know, like hitting the gym more.  ohh right that resolution you made last month... damn.] it's called inevitability thinking.

inevitably thinking just means another way of setting yourself up for success - what conditions you need to put in place to make it inevitable that you'll achieve your goal.

think of it this way: if you signed a contract with a gym that didn't require a monthly fee and instead charged you $100 for every workout that you missed, how many times do you think you'd miss a workout?  probably 0.  if you told your bossy sibling they could collect $40 from you every time you slept in past your alarm, how many times do you think you'd sleep in?  again, minimal times.  the pain of losing that money hurts a lot more than procrastinating a goal (for most people!)

sometimes goals are fun things like trying more new restaurants or going skydiving.  but if your goal is of the type that tends to get procrastinated - weight loss, saving money, career advancement, healthy eating - often the best way to actually get them done is to make it hurt a little if you don't.

it's sort of the opposite of a rewards system.  rewards don't always work, right?  sometimes you do the thing to get the reward and then never do the thing again.  i'm guilty of this.  give up fast food for a month so i can get the reward i set (a new purse or something) and then go right back to eating fast food the next month.  now, if fast food cost me double what i pay, i'd stop eating it.  so i told john that every time i get fast food, he gets to transfer at least double of what i spent on it into savings.  that's a huge hit that could mean no more eating out the rest of the month, no happy hour with the girls, etc.  it stings, and it makes me more likely to eat healthy than that one time high of getting the new purse.

so try it backwards.  no rewards. try this punishment version instead.  but we don't call it punishment, because that's negative.  we call it 'inevitably thinking.'  see what we did there?  now go, set you some goals!

Why I Don't Post About 'Real Life' and Other Survey Results

February 23, 2016

in case you missed it last week, i posted a 3 question survey about blogging.  it's still open and i'm still reading results, if you want to take it.  i asked (1) what you like and want to see more of, (2) what you don't like and want to see less of and (3) any specific topics you'd like to see on this blog.  a couple people mentioned that they would like to know what the results of the survey were, and i'm happy to share.  since i asked about blogging in general, some of the answers would work across all blogs, not just mine.  settle in if you're interested, it's a long one.  but the main points are bolded for skimmers.

what you don't like and/or would like to see less of

- for this question, i specifically asked 'whether you've seen it on not entirely perfect or not' and the resounding answer (i swear, almost every single response said this) - please do not blog about blogging.  no 'how to blog' posts, no 'how to get more followers' posts.  people complained that everyone is turning down this path lately and they're sick of it.  i totally get it.  i have never blogged about those kinds of things and i never will, don't you worry.  i'm not an expert on anything, certainly not blogging.  [wait no, lies, i'm an expert on naked girls photo hunt on the touch screen machine in the bar.]  anyway, i know people are fed up with those blogging about blogging posts, and you won't see them here.

- fashion posts.  this came up a few times, not many.  i don't do these either because, well, i own approximately 30 items of clothing.  yeah... fashion is not my jam, ah well.  people did say they like makeup/beauty because i share my cruelty free picks, so there may be more of that.  i'll try anything to get more people to go cruelty free with their shopping!  i do have a youtube channel and some of that information is better suited to video, so i may share things like that over there, but i will post here to let you know too.

- weekend recaps.  this was just a couple of answers, but i threw it in here because, as you'll see in the next section, people wanted more of my real life.  but not in weekend recap form and i completely agree.  i don't do weekend recaps, because i don't like them.  i don't read them when anyone else does them either, as my blog friends well know.  i just pick up with their blogs again on tuesdays :)

- sponsored posts, though everyone was clear to say 'too many' sponsored posts or posts that don't make sense with the rest of the blog's content.  sponsored posts are a part of life, it is what it is.  i feel like most people understand that.  this little space costs money, albeit mostly just the domain name at this point, but i don't do hobbies that are money pits.  it's why i gave up scrapbooking.  i don't do many sponsored posts, but they do come up.  i try to only do ones that make sense, fingers crossed that comes across to you.  i do only do them on mondays and max only twice a month.  i have 200 other posts for you in 2016, hopefully the sponsored ones don't make you leave.

- 2 answers said financial stuff and budgeting, but those were super outweighed by the people who said they want more posts on finances.  i try to balance, but going forward i am making an effort to keep it to once a week or so - sometimes i'm not great at spacing out topics so it's not all the same ideas right in a row, but it's on my to do list.

- 2 answers also said declutter/organizing/minimalism, for which my answer is same as the above - far outweighed by the people who requested more on this.  i will say though, i did do a ton of those types of post in a row in january, because it was when i was massively trying to clear out my apartment at once.  i do want to space these out as well.

i'm not at all offended by the last two, even though i do post about those things.  i'm happy to grow, and really thinking about spacing those out is helpful so thank you for your honest answers!  for those of you who want more on those topics or have specific questions, talk to me any time on twitter, i love giving advice.  plus if you solicit it, i don't feel quite as bossy.  win win.

what you like and what you want to see more of

most answers said you like everything i currently do, so thank you.  you like my writing style (i write how i talk, so thanks!) and you appreciate my snarky attitude, rant posts, and my 'i don't care style.'  which is good, because i'm generally like that most days.  in high school i was voted 'most likely to go through life succeeding, but not really caring.'  i swear.  i'll try to find that for ya.  anyway, the specifics:

- more about chicago, which surprised me.  i love to do those posts, but they don't always get tons of reads.  which makes sense, because who's going to care unless they're visiting?  but i'll figure out a way to throw some more fun chicago posts in here.  there's so much i want to share, i'll need to narrow it down.

- my three on thursdays posts get a thumbs up from a lot of you, so yay.  i love doing those.  someone also mentioned that it would make a good link up, which i agree with.  betsy asked me awhile ago to host it as a link up with her but straight up - hosting link ups sucks.  seriously, i loathe it.  i love seeing everyone's posts but the behind the scenes work is just too much for me, it takes all the fun out of the post.  i told betsy to go ahead and host it if she really wants to, so stayed tuned to see if she does.  or maybe you want to co-host with her, just ask her.

- in a similar vein, challenges are well liked.  like the misgame i did in january.  steph and i used to host 30 day challenges, with a different theme each month.  again, doing the work killed me even though steph did most of it after the first month!  feel free to host it, i'll join in and link up, i just don't host anything anymore.

- a lot of you wanted to see more about my life, which i haven't talked about lately so i assume that's why it came up in so many answers.  here's the thing regarding that - there is nothing i hate more than vague blogging.  to me it's just like when someone says 'i had the best weekend!' or 'sigh. life sucks.'  it's begging for attention and it drives me BONKERS because you are an adult and if you want to talk about something, spit it the fuck out or don't bring it up at all.  i'm not going to drag it out of you, i just, simply put, don't care that much.  so i don't want to vague blog anything, i'd rather just not talk about it.  and i don't want to talk about anything specific about our house we're buying or about john's job on the blog until everything is set in stone because i think it's a jinx.  so until i'm moving my shit into the front door of our house, you're not going to hear anything about it.  and that's honestly what's taking up most of my time lately, so i have nothing else 'real life' to talk about.  i promise, once the house is set and the stuff with john's job is set, i'll back track and tell you all the details.  just stick around until, say, early/mid summer and it'll be all real life all the time!  oh and also i'm on a total spending freeze this month, so my life is wildly boring.  sorry.

- and the #1 across the board answer of what you love and what you want to see more of - hawkeye.  literally no one is surprised by that and now her head is even bigger, guys.  but it's cool, i'm happy to oblige.  i only have posts actually about pets once a month, but i'm happy to just throw in random photos of her all the time.  i should just end every post with a photo of hawkeye.  that's how you gain followers, amirite?  also, top left corner are links to my social media so find me on instagram if you haven't already.  it's a hawkeye photo smorgasbord up in there.

they love me. give the people what they want!

Pet Tip of the Month: Keeping a Safety Kit On Hand

February 20, 2016

if you have a pet, you know there's no end to the trouble they can get in.  and they depend on you to help them when they do.  from things stuck in their paws to ear to ticks to tummy troubles, there's nothing like the peace of mind of keeping a first aid kit on hand just for your fur baby.  do you have one yet?

if you don't, definitely make one!  you'd be surprised how much can be used from your own (human) first aid kit.  just a few additions will make it pet friendly too.  what should be in your first aid kit:
- cotton pads and cotton balls
- gauze and banages
- antiseptic
- scissors
- tweezers
- flea and tick medication
- tick removal devices
- worming treatments
- dog sunscreen
- any other pet meds (hawkeye takes benadryl when her allergies bother her)
- unflavored electrolyte sports drinks
- vet information

ask your vet for anything else you should include.

after you have the first aid kit set, i would also recommend keeping an emergency preparedness kit on hand for your pet as well.  if you have one for yourself or other family members, why not fluffy?  if you had a power outage or had to quickly leave your house, having a kit of the essentials would make things much easier.  think about how much you would need until you could reach outside help.  start with:

- copies of shot records, medication lists, vet information, and important medical history
- extra leash, collar, and id tag
- 3 days of food and water per pet
- toy(s)
- treats
- litter and litter box for cats

what would you add to either list?  do you have a pet first aid or emergency kit on hand?

Three on Thursday

February 18, 2016

welcome back to three on thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites.  

1. rubberized nail polish base coat.  if you struggle with nails chipping the second the paint dries, you need to try the orly bonder rubberized base coat.  it works wonders.  i don't know why, i'm sure it's all science-y, but all i know is that it makes my polish last way longer than other base coats, and i've tested it with the same polish and top coats.  it just works.  get it on amazon, it's $4 cheaper than it is at ulta for the same thing, just fyi.  (orly is a cruelty free brand as well.  they did sell in china but they pulled from the market there and are back to being cruelty free.)

2. paintings by vicki if you don't just love the colors, you're crazy.  i don't know where else you're going to get original, beautiful pieces for the prices she charges.  if you're a minimalist like me, it's the perfect pop of color to add to a room.


3. freedom filer.  i love this thing.  if you have taxes on your mind and are feeling overwhelmed, i highly recommend it.  i also recommend it if you don't currently have any sort of filing system for your important documents.  the video on the website can explain it better than i can, but essentially the files are organized in such a way that you'll automatically purge old documents at the correct time, so you never have to 'declutter' your system.  the ready made system is $99, which is a lot, but you don't have to buy all the things yourself and it's already done.  if you get the diy kit, it's only $35.

happy thursday friends!

Financial Tip of the Month: Tracking Donations for Tax Purposes

February 13, 2016

by this time of the year, a lot of people have a good amount of donations to drop off.  after the influx of things at christmas, a lot of people clear out the older items.  and after the start of the new year, even more people adopt some sort of cleaning resolution that often involves decluttering.  donating these items to people (or animals!) in need is a wonderful thing on it's own, but hopefully you know there's another side benefit to your kindness - a tax write off.  yes, your donations are tax deductible.

first up, know what you can donate: clothes (including shoes and accessories), books and movies, small furniture like lamps or side tables, toys and games, kitchen items and other household items (vases, picture frames), tools, sports equipment, and computers and electronics.  you can also donate linens, but i recommend those go straight to your local shelter, of course!

what can't you donate?  big appliances, car parts, anything broken, mattresses, weapons - you know the drill.  if you're not comfortable gifting it to a friend, it's not appropriate for donation either.

now, the tax part - the donation limit is 50% of your income.  say you make $40,000 a year.  your donation limit, the amount you can claim your items are worth, is $20,000.  it's unlikely to effect you when you're just donating some clothes and dishes.  in order to get this tax deduction, you have to itemize.  your tax guy will tell you if that's a good idea for you or not.  the standard deduction is somewhere around $6,000 if you're single and $12,000 if you're married, so if you're deducting more than that (say, student loan repayment, plus donations, plus credits for buying energy efficient household appliances, all those good things) you'll want to itemize and get your taxes as low as possible.  i itemize.  i want every single damn dollar.

so how do you decide what your items are worth?  that's the easy part - there's a ton of lists for you.   the salvation army and goodwill each have their own guide.  personally, i donate to the salvation army.  here in chicago, they have a truck that drives around and you can schedule it to pick up your donation (of any size) and they will leave you a receipt for your records.  it's still on you to determine the value of course - they just pick up your bags and go.  you can also try using turbo tax's it’s deductible, which is a bit higher in price for each item and takes a little longer to set up, but it saves all your info for the entire year to your account (and it's free.)

there are a few other donation tracking tools worth mentioning too, if the turbo tax one isn't your style.  online, try the goodwill donation receipt builder.  if you're a pen and paper fan and maybe want to take photos of what you donated for your records, try out iheartorganizing's donation tracker printable.  both are free too, of course.

when the world is making it this easy for you, there's no reason not to donate your old items.  and get a tax break while you do.

Three on Thursday

February 11, 2016

welcome back to three on thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites. 

1. raspberry drinks at starbucks.  some people seem to hate valentine's day, but, like every other holiday ever, i embrace it.  and nothing says valentine's day like pink hued coffee drinks.  oh yes - adding raspberry flavor to starbucks drinks makes them pink!  just get one pump or even half a pump, it's sweet.  i don't like sweet drinks, so just a baby pump of it will do.  it's so cute and delicious.  i like good old raspberry lattes, but raspberry mochas are good too.  because chocolate and raspberry, duh.

2. silk/satin robes and pjs.  i'm a firm believer in nice, comfortable, adorable pjs.  i do not like relegating old ratty yoga pants (not that i own any, i loathe yoga pants) to pj status.  i want my pjs to look nice!  i do have a couple of the cute soft sets from victoria's secret that i enjoy particularly in the colder months, but i still love silk or satin pjs all year round.  with a silk/satin robe on top.  it's worth the investment, plus how adorable would pink ones be for valentine's day?  i have this robe in black and this slip in many colors.  i also have a long wish list going from nordstrom's.  channeling my inner blair waldorf.


3. thebalm meet matt(e) hughes liquid lipstick.  this sucker stays.  i love it so much.  its such a nice matte lip effect, pretty colors that are never patchy, long wearing, evenly fading, not drying - it's the best liquid lipstick i've tried, and i've tried a lot.  this one doesn't get enough love in the lipstick world, and i have no idea why.  this is the color charming, i also love adoring and committed.  get one.


happy thursday, friends.

Things I Make An Effort To Do More Often, But Never Actually Do

February 10, 2016

in case you missed my february goals, i'm currently right in the middle of no spend month.  well no, not middle, we're not even halfway yet.  but i have successfully spent $0 so far.  i'm also in the middle of a diet bet and 3 weeks into eating the strict eat to live plan (from the book), which is essentially totally vegan but also super limited in grains and fats.  all while reducing waste.  plus i totally decluttered and own less than 500 items, and that's counting each fork separately.  so i'm feeling pretty good about how i'm doing in all of these areas.  like i'm being a very good adult.

but i know better.  there's some items that are forever on my perpetual to do list, even though it wouldn't be that complicated to check them off.  things that would get done on a regular basis if i were actually being a very good adult.  like,

clean my contact lens case.  all i have to do is run it through the dishwasher but nah.

wear sunscreen.  buy sunscreen, first of all.  and then wear it.  i don't ever think to do this because i hate being hot and i don't like summer so i don't spend a lot of time outside.  i certainly never go to the beach or anything.  but still, you're supposed to wear sunscreen every single day.

clean my makeup brushes.  apparently some people do this every week.  some even do it after each time they use the brush.  i am not those people.

track passwords.  gone are the days of trying to use the same passwords, websites make you change them every freaking month it seems like.  plus you need lower case letters, capital letters, numbers, characters, a blood oath.  i just auto save them when i'm on my work computer or laptop, because the browsers (firefox and safari) have those options.  but this means i can't sign in anywhere else, like on my phone or at my parents' house, because i never remember the password.  i keep meaning to write these somewhere, like in a planner or a draft e-mail or something, but they change so often that i can never keep up.  sigh.

respond to blog comments.  i have so many posts pre-written (like, i dunno, 200) that you'd think i'd have freed up a bunch of time which i could now spend responding to comments.  and i do have the time, i just forget.  because the comment system e-mails them to my personal e-mail account, which i'm on all day, so i read them instantly and then i respond in my head and then say i'm going to respond on the blog later, but later never happens.  and then 2+ weeks go by and by then i'm just hoping you forget that i didn't respond.

clean the garbage disposal.  because that's apparently a thing.  i'm really good about regularly cleaning other apartment things, even fan blades, just not that.  (and on a related note, i don't call the landlord to fix said garbage disposal, because it's been broken for months but i don't use it so i don't care.)

i swear i try, i do.  it was easy to write this post because all of these things are on my phone's to do list, they just never get checked off.  but the intention is there.  that counts for something... right?  i can't be the only one - what's on your list?

Organizing Tip of the Month: Tracking Birthdays in Google Calendar

February 6, 2016

if you're an avid gmail user (as many of us are), i highly recommend getting use out of the google calendar that comes with it.  as you know, i'm a paper planner fan so i don't often check the google calendar - even though it's synced to my phone.  i do use it to schedule doctor's appointments while i'm standing at the receptionist's desk but for weekly activities and to do list, i stick to paper planners.  but one thing i do love using the google calendar for is tracking birthdays.

once you enter someone's birthday, you can set it to be a repeating event, yearly.  that way you just enter it once and it's on your calendar every year!

you can also set a reminder, if it's a birthday you generally send a card or gift for.  i set them for a week in advance.  that way i get an e-mail to my gmail account alerting me that a birthday is coming up, giving me plenty of time to get and send a card, or to make plans for a lunch or dinner with nearby friends or family.  and i don't even have to habitually check the calendar in order to do so.  how easy is that?

here's a view of my upcoming month of april (i hid the other calendars like my bills reminders and the blackhawks schedule, so you could just see the birthdays)  click to expand it bigger.  the 3 in yellow are birthdays, the things in pink are other things on my calendar.

when you click a date on the calendar to add an event, this is how it looks.  just enter the birthday, and choose to have it repeat annually on that date.  then, towards the bottom, i personally change the color so i know at a glance that yellow is nothing but birthdays in my calendar.  that's just a preference.  and right under that is your notification options.  as you can see, i've got it scheduled to remind me of betsy's birthday one week in advance, via e-mail.

since i don't have facebook, i love this option to not only remind me of birthdays but also give me warning so i have time to plan things.  and i only have to set it one time and it's done for years to come.  what do you think -  already use it?  planning to try it?  happy organizing.

Three on Thursday

February 4, 2016

welcome back to three on thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites. 

1. y'all gonna make me lose my mind coffee mug.  not a new thing by any means, but it never stops being funny.  i like all things matching so i have a white set of mugs from crate and barrel and nothing else sneaks into my collection, except this one.  and it's my favorite.  oh and the no diggity one, for pitch perfect fans.  i don't own that one yet, but it's adorable.


2. jordana fabuliner.  it's a really black eyeliner with a felt tip.  now, even though i prefer brush tip over felt tip, it still lasts a long time, it's easy to apply, and at my walgreens, it's only $2.  how can you beat that?  and of course it's cruelty free.
3. looking for a new netflix watch?  hackers, armageddon, jumanji, and cruel intentions are all now on there!  yes yes, must relive the 90s.  i loved all of these, anyone else?  actually armageddon was the first one i owned on vhs myself.  like, not bought for me by my mom.  my cousins gave it to me for my birthday.  so yes, netflix.  more 90s!

5 Things I Can't Get Over No Matter How Many Years It's Been

February 3, 2016

- cancelling my so-called life.  one season, that's it?  damnit claire danes.  i still haven't forgiven you.  i'm continually trying to convince john to grow his hair out like 90s era jared leto, to no avail.

- caridee english winning america's next top model.  come on.  why i stuck with antm up through season 7, i will never know, but that was the final straw for me.

- that southern girls dress up for football.  i remember my best friend from high school going to tailgates when she started at clemson and telling me about wearing dresses and heels and pearls and ... wtf?  how do you do a keg stand in a dress?  apparently, they don't.  i don't understand.  iowa is way better at this whole tailgate thing.

- the death of the nokia phone.  i loved this indestructible little bugger, i want it back.  seriously, every phone since has paled in comparison.  my iphone is too delicate with too many useless features.

- that wonderballs stopped being sold because the stuff inside was a choking hazard.  omg seriously if you freaking ate the thing without taking out the prize inside, then go ahead and choke.  that would be called natural selection and the world would be better for it.  i don't deserve to be punished for your stupidity.  (and i don't know what the reasoning is behind getting rid of dunkaroos and koala yummies, but i'm sad about that too.  and don't try to tell me that the koala/panda things at world market or the dollar spot at target are the same thing, they are not.)

what about you?  still harboring any long standing concerns like i am?

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